This Pandemic Can Lead Us to Build an Economy That Works for All
Jun 1 2020
Imagine this headline: “American business community commits to competing our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
That doesn’t make any sense. How about this one: “American business community collaborates to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and commits to an economy that works for all.” That hints at a real solution: building solidarity and mobilizing our talents and capital in a way that not only helps us mitigate the current catastrophe but also starts building a far more resilient next economy.
This is not about volunteerism or individual corporate responses to communities in crisis. Those things are wonderful and we need them—but the limits of the unilateral approach are well demonstrated. The times call for a much deeper, systemic approach. When this pandemic abates, we will still face the crises we began this year with: climate change, gaping inequality, homelessness, lack of affordable education and healthcare, and limited access to capital come immediately to mind.
While the planet can temporarily breathe a little more freely now that billions of people are restricted in their movement, the pandemic is devastating from both a health and an economic perspective—especially for lower-income people and communities of color. In a society where healthcare is treated as a privilege rather than a universal right, a crisis like the one we’re experiencing exacerbates the underlying inequities of an economy that doesn’t work for everyone.
To address this crisis and build the resilience we need to meet the next one, we must do more than tinker around the edges: we need new economic models that move us away from extracting value for the few toward a regenerative approach to human and ecological resources that is inherently adaptive and favors collaboration in the interest of the whole.
Major players in the finance sector and elsewhere should be taking this on—and I hope they will—but we don’t have to wait for them to lead. Smaller, nimbler enterprises are developing and demonstrating better ways right now. RSF Social Finance can contribute three capital-flow models we have refined over the past decade that we believe can be modified to scale.